|Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2014-04-08 21:55Z by Steven|
Reginald Oh, Professor of Law
Cleveland Marshall College of Law
Cleveland State University
- II. Loving v. Virginia
- III. The Greatest Threat to the Purity of the White Race: Social Equality Through Interracial Marriage
- IV. Miscegenation and Segregation Laws and the Legal Enforcement of White Racial Endogamy
- A. The Enforcement of White Endogamy Norms During and After Slavery
- B. White Racial Endogamy and the Segregation of Public Schools
- C. The Regulation of White Women’s Desires
- V. Back to Loving
- VI. Conclusion
In the landmark decision Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court held that laws prohibiting interracial marriages violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because they served the impermissible purpose of maintaining white supremacy. The Commonwealth of Virginia had argued that, because the law equally punished whites and blacks, it did not illegitimately single out African Americans for discriminatory treatment. In striking down the statute, the Court rejected the notion that the equal application of miscegenation laws made them consistent with equal protection.
The Court, however, never adequately addressed an apparent flaw in its reasoning. According to conventional understandings of how white supremacy operates, laws promoting white supremacy are supposed to invidiously discriminate against blacks while benefiting whites. But how can miscegenation laws promote white supremacy and the interests of whites if the laws actually restrict their fundamental right of association and punish them if they cross racial boundaries? Was the Court contending that miscegenation laws promoted white supremacy in spite of their incidental effects on the individual rights of whites?
This Article will argue that miscegenation laws functioned to promote the supremacy of the white race by, paradoxically, deliberately regulating and restricting the liberty of white individuals. Segregationists feared that some whites, particularly women and children, wanted to relate to blacks as social equals. Without legal restrictions on the associational rights of whites, segregationists feared that blacks would gain social equality and freely enter into equal intimate relations—and ultimately marriages—with them. This would result in more interracial families, and inevitably end in the creation of a nation of a “mongrel breed of citizens.”
This Article contends that segregationist justifications for miscegenation and segregation laws shows that those laws effectively imposed a legal duty on whites to adhere to cultural norms of endogamy. Dominant social groups enforce rules of endogamy—the cultural practice of encouraging people to marry within their own social group—to protect the dominant status of their individual members and of the social group in general. Thus, laws prohibiting interracial marriages regulated white desire in order to protect the dominant status of whites as a group. The Loving Court, therefore, ultimately was correct in declaring that miscegenation laws denied blacks equal protection.
Part II of this Article discusses miscegenation laws and the Loving decision. It contends that the Court understood that miscegenation laws operated to protect white supremacy, but that it failed to adequately explain how such laws did so. Part III argues that the primary rationale used to justify these laws was the protection of the purity of the white race. Part IV will explain these laws’ history and demonstrate that segregationists enacted and supported them to ensure that whites practiced endogamy. Part V concludes by reexamining the Loving decision in light of this Article’s analysis…
Read the entire article here.